City staff recommend saying so long to Ottawa's royal swans
Swans are descendants of 6 pairs of mute swans given to the city by Queen Elizabeth in 1967
- The community and protective services committee voted June 20 to relocate the swans.
- City council gave final approval June 26. Coun. Theresa Kavanagh and Shawn Menard voted against.
It's time for Ottawa's royal swans to move on because there's nowhere for them to stay in the city over the winter, according to city staff.
A staff report to be considered at the June 20 meeting of the city's community and protective services committee recommends the remaining members of the flock be relocated permanently to their winter home, Parc Safari near Montreal.
The royal swans are descendants of the six mute swans Queen Elizabeth gave the city for Canada's centennial in 1967, save for one descendant of Australian black swans that were acquired in a swap with the Montreal Zoo.
For five decades, the swans graced the Rideau River. However, their numbers have dwindled as the swans grew older and predators nabbed their eggs, according to the staff report.
The report said there are only four mute swans left and 20 are needed for a viable flock.
The main reason to permanently give away the swans, according to city staff, is to avoid the stress of transporting them back and forth, as well as provide them constant monitoring at Parc Safari.
Staff said the city will save $600,000 by not building a new swan facility.
'Supreme insult to the Queen'
Clarence Dungey, who has advocated for the city to take care of the swans in the past, said he plans to speak in favour of the city retaining the flock when the report is presented.
"I think it's a supreme insult to the Queen, that she took the time to gift the swans to the capital city of Canada only to now face the reality that the city itself is going to involve themselves in a re-gifting procedure," Dungey said.
"What this says to me is, well, we promised the Queen we'd take care of it, but now we're not!"
Mayor Jim Watson once joked on Ottawa Morning for April Fool's Day that the city would re-gift the swans to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge for their wedding.
Watson is now supporting the staff recommendation, according to his spokesperson, who said the mayor has expressed concern for the swans' well-being after several of them were attacked and killed by other wildlife last year.